|Complexity Digest 2008.42 16-Oct-2008|
"I think the next century will be the century of complexity." Stephen Hawking, 2000.
The Wall Street geeks, the quantitative analysts ("quants") and masters of "algo trading" probably felt the same irresistible lure of "illimitable power" [as the creators of the atom bomb, Ed.] when they discovered "evolutionary algorithms" that allowed them to create vast empires of wealth by deriving the dependence structures of portfolio credit derivatives.
(...) no one understands credit default obligations and derivatives, except perhaps Mr. Buffett and the computers who created them.
And in the beginning, there were tally sticks. This collection of 13th-century Exchequer "stocks" is stored at the National Archives in London.
Courtesy National Archives, UK
The problem starts, as the current crisis demonstrates, when unregulated replication is applied to money itself. Highly complex computer-generated financial instruments (known as derivatives) are being produced, not from natural factors of production or other goods, but purely from other financial instruments. When the Exchequer splits the tally stick in two, the King keeps the gold and silver, and you keep one half of the stick.
"Our most striking finding was that Internet searching appears to engage a greater extent of neural circuitry that is not activated during reading -- but only in those with prior Internet experience," Small said to the UCLA news service.
Seki worked on determinants simultaneously with Leibniz, another mathematician whose work went unrecognized for decades because he never published it. "There were striking similarities in mathematical thinking" between the two men, says Eberhard Knobloch, a Leibniz scholar at the Berlin University of Technology. If the Eastern and Western mathematical sages had been in contact, Knobloch says, it probably would have advanced mathematics worldwide.
But there's hope. The 1993 study suggested that cheating dropped in schools that encouraged a culture of integrity - either by formally instituting an honor code or by stressing at every turn the importance of honesty and integrity.
Cardiologist Bart Denys says that if you want to understand why testing new medical treatments can be so discouraging and so expensive these days, just leaf through the proposed clinical trials that pour into his office. Pharmaceutical and medical-device companies seek him out in Thibodaux, Louisiana, because he's an experienced clinical researcher who works for a private institute with access to more than 30,000 patients.
The production of antibodies by B cells is essential for protective immunity following vaccination or exposure to infectious pathogens. The development of antibody-secreting B cells occurs in discrete areas of lymphoid tissues called germinal centres, the formation of which depends on interactions between B cells and T cells bearing the CD4 molecule on their surface (CD4+ T cells).
Molecular pathways and networks have already been developed and used to model drug actions. For example, a computational model of the ion-channels in the heart has been used to study the role of the late sodium current in cardiac arrhythmia and to explain the previously ill-understood mode of action of the cardio-protective drug ranolazine. Elsewhere, maps of molecular pathways and their interconnection within larger intracellular or intercellular networks are providing a framework for the evaluation of novel therapeutic strategies.
Studies in bacteria have shed light on how double-strand breaks are processed for mending, but uncertainty remains over many pivotal aspects of DNA repair in eukaryotic organisms (yeast, plants and animals). Three studies, including one by Mimitou and Symington on page 770 of this issue, unlock some of the mysteries of the initiating steps in eukaryotic DNA repair.
At the 2008 Sopchoppy Worm Gruntin' Festival in Florida, expert Gary Revell demonstrates the traditional art of hunting worms by rubbing metal over a wooden stake in the ground. The technique makes a grunting noise reminiscent of a predatory mole.The worms rush out of the ground.
Compared to moles, though, people haven't played such an important role in earthworm evolutionary history. Thus they count as rare enemies. Their habits don't have the punch of the big mole menace, and people can easily exploit worms' defensive reactions - such as fleeing vibrations, the reaction that works against the more important predator.
But for more than a decade after their rediscovery, golden-line barbels would not breed in captivity. Then Yang's team at the Yunnan Endemic Species Breeding Center noticed that adults disappear in winter and reappear with hatchlings in spring, says KIZ ichthyologist Chen Xiao-Yong. He speculates that golden-line barbels breed in submerged caves during winter.
Sauropods had an elephantine body supported by four columnar legs and ending in a long tail. From the body arose a long neck bearing a small skull. Sauropods exhibit diverse oral, dental, and neck designs, indicating dietary niche differentiation; this variety makes reliance on any particular food source (6) as the reason for gigantism unlikely. However, one evolutionarily primitive character truly sets sauropods apart: In contrast to mammals and advanced bird-hipped dinosaurs (duck-billed and horned dinosaurs), they did not masticate their food; nor did they grind it in a gastric mill, as did some other herbivorous dinosaurs (7 ).
The field of spintronics - spin electronics - seeks to harness the spin of electrons in metals and semiconductors in order to perform tasks that are, at present, routinely carried out by electrons' charge. Spintronics offers a promising path to achieve further reduction in both the size and power consumption of solid-state devices.
As roads and highways become ever more clogged, Danielle Parsons tells us how researchers are studying ways to learn from nature's own traffic-flow experts: ants.
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